Skip to main content
7:00 pm
thought about it, but maybe that's a sequel that i can do. no, it's really interesting because people really do talk about -- they use that kind of exercise language that i use in the book, you know, you need mental calisthenics as well as physical ones to kind of keep your mind healthy, and that apparently can be helpful in dealing with alzheimer's and things like that, so there may well be a prescription of video games we may want to dole out to senior citizens. ok. good. all right. >> called everything bad is good for you, agree, disagree, the book is there for you to read and debate. and we ..ncoming out. [applause] >> are you going to stay around? >> stick around, we are going to sign. >> is that where i
7:01 pm
7:02 pm
>> next on the tv, trevor aaronson says since 9/11 the fbi has built up a network of over 15,000 informant and muslim communities around the u.s. he argues these informants spearhead phony terror plots which are then exposed by the fbi with great fanfare to make it look like the was doing a good job of keeping us safe. mr. aaronson is joined by coadjutor mother jones magazine. this is in our 15. [applause] >> thank you so much for coming out. trevor and i spend a lot of time together working on the project
7:03 pm
and its fantastic to see a full-blown menace spoke. i assume you will all be walking out with a copy, but in case you haven't fully digested it coming and, i'd like to draw trevor at a little bit on how this came about because this is a man who spent more than a year of his life on freedom of information act documents from the fbi. how did this come about? how did you start going down this rabbit hole? >> and started for me in 2006. i was a reporter in miami and there was a case involving seven and from liberty city and at first it seemed initially to me roberto gonzalez came to announce the case that we're here to declare crowd more and we are going to bomb the sears
7:04 pm
tower, obviously the question was how the seven guys to clear groundwater. it was ridiculous. then i realized there was was informant involved. the connection was an undercover fbi informant who was posing as an al qaeda operative and that was their only connection to terrorism at all. but i did my story when i was in miami and i kind of put that in my back pocket and overtime realized it was my case marquesas be above that all have a similar padding of the people charged with terrorism or the subway station. they never had the ability to acquire weapons and those are provided by an undercover agent or an fbi informant posing as al qaeda operative or an affiliate of a terrorist organization of some sort. it's a red around 2010 i began to question, how can we figure out how many cases have existed?
7:05 pm
how many hundreds of terrorists of 9/11 were involving real terrorists who are in serious, imminent danger and those involving people that have no capacity on around, but providing them with the means they would apply for every year a program that pose journalists they could take a more. i say doing something that took a holistic look at the terrorism cases and figure out how many of them involved it hairiest that had no capacity for terrorism on their own. so working with monica, we produced a story elected that entirely. what we found was more than 500 terrorist prosecutions, one of every two involved in informant. in the case of more than 150 dependent commentator played a part in the plot or more than 50
7:06 pm
played a provocateur, where he provided people who on their own never had that capacity. the underlined part of defining this weekend showed dozens of men who never capacity on their own, but the ones who did have capacity are very few. not your dishonesty to survive our terry spirit and mention the book you can count on one hand the number of people who posed a serious threat. the others are all going to try out right now. they never had the ability to acquire weapons, but the fbi provided 10 what they needed to go from being on the fringes to dangerous terrorists overnight. >> take us inside one of these cases if you would because the stories he told the book are quite astonishing.
7:07 pm
>> many of the pieces are complicated, so it's hard to tell quickly. in a situation like this is a man in illinois named derek sharif. according to the document, we don't know what the fbi targeted him, that they decided he was a potential terrorist attack. at the time he was recently covert to islam, have been ostracized for it and had no place to live. seems as if a card been broken down. the informant strikes up conversation with them. just before ramadan and during that conversation, the informant says you can come live with me and i've got a car you can use. he says this must be the work of god and over the course of several months, they talk about islam and encourages them to get
7:08 pm
involved with the terrible things he stood around the world. and he says it has rashly, i want to smoke a judge, chile judge. he didn't know the names any judges in informant says what if we passed a law and he said i want to pass a shop in law. they're getting very excited at the fbi had a stake in place. derek didn't have any money any guess t.i. had to have more than just talking. they needed to to acquire weapons. the informant says i know an arms dealer. i think it be to a stereo speakers to the dealer, he would take them entry. i'm pretty sure no arms dealers going to take stereo speaker for brittany spears delete those to the parking lot. he brings a result stereo
7:09 pm
speaker and the agent then hands over the fire grenades and other regions russian and arrest and in charge him with conspiracy but the weapon of mass deception in the serving 25 years in prison. this is a man who is in a danger to himself. but during a sting operation, he said to the informant at one point. i probably would've ended up stabbing someone with a steak knife. he was capable of a minor crime, yet very sting operation, the government was able to go to the public and say here it is, in other plot foiled. >> you are able to to people and find out what they were thinking in the process. you especially really made
7:10 pm
enough for to get a sense of why the fbi would be doing mass and what the rationale is that is point of view. >> there are few people who work in the fbi who are critical, but generally you find them as a general support of this program. what they believe is al qaeda as it existed in 9/11 and today that there is a capacity for a terrorist organization like al qaeda to bend over and commit a horrific crime. instead, they are concerned about what they termed globals, people in the western pacific date, dissolution and have bad feelings about the united states, want to do something and they look that much of al qaeda she hottie video and that will inspire them to act in much an attack of some sort. but the fb ray refers to this as
7:11 pm
al qaeda and mr. franchise, but in fact them with this idea and go carry out the attack. but the fbi is specifically looking for our people who run the spectrum the fbi turned on one side operational and the other side is a sympathizer. they want to find someone on the sympathizers tied, but just about to cross over to become a terrorist and catch them before he becomes a terrorist. the sting operations are to draw them out to commit some act of violence and arrest them to deal that means the fbi has, which is the criminal justice system according to some lot, conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction or other terrorism related cases. i think it's easy to be empathetic to the fbi co and i talk about this in the book but if you're a case agent and you have a sky saying i want to bomb the subway system, you don't
7:12 pm
want to be the guy who says that to ignore them in six months later he actually does commit an act of terrorism. it's easy to understand why the fbi would pursue these cases. what i put in the put in the book as there is yet to be an example of someone who won the road is an capable of terrorism. someone had to snap up into any chance this al qaeda operative and says he was a bomb. the only people providing the capacity of the fbi. the sting operations are an evolution where the new basis than glamorous work i has an empty briefcase and two people believe there's and tied them a hand over empty briefcase and it's empty and they rush the person. i say that works in a sense because data shows that they are not buying or selling drugs from the fbi, they can buy and sell somewhere else in the united
7:13 pm
states. but what is difficult to obtain are the weapons people use in a terrorist operation. it is yet to be a case where we have someone no one his own as a sympathizer and wants to commit an act of terrorism somebody gives him the chance to happen. >> is this something that's fairly unanimously supported within the fbi or is there controversy, dispute among people who work on this? >> there is controversy inside. he has bled over from 9/11, george w. bush said maverick had. it allowed for greater merry and ideas between the cia and fbi come over there had a lot of tension. there are people who believe that today's, specifically involving aggressive recruitment and muslim communities is that they would turn going for the dark side. live in a direction the cia generally had gone into.
7:14 pm
this general support among these policies because these are the types of cases they work. there is a minority inside the fbi that is critical of these cases. getting them to talk is a difficult part. had occasion survey had to use anonymous resource name. but there are people such as michael german or former agents who are openly critical of these programs and do not believe in their efficacy. >> you've also gotten some criticism since the book came out, including today in the review in "the wall street journal" from people saying you've got this all wrong. this is pretty much fun for us and it has to prevent another 9/11. >> a former fbi agent put it critical review of the book in "the wall street journal." what is criticism hinges on includes john miller, assistant director of the fbi. and i criticized were coming to
7:15 pm
consistently talk about real terrorists. they mentioned faisal shaddai, the shoe bomber and the so-called dirty bomber. you got this wrong and are really there. i'm not disputing the fact you're a terrorist. i'm not defeating the fact that someone came very close to bombing the subway system. but where i think they go finest examples of these are examples of cases that never came on the radar through sting operations. in fact, in some ways they prove my point that when you have real terrorists out there, the sting operations have proven impossible to the fbi to tease out real people who are dangerous and instead we are trying the margins of society and either economically desperate. there's a case in seattle all
7:16 pm
been a member schizoaffective disorder, which he had trouble making them very susceptible to an employment format. and the book i try to draw the line between israel terrorism there have been no cases of terrorism since 9/11 but these other cases. the criticism i get from the fbi right now the same except you and don't make that distinction. >> the informants themselves are interesting characters. they're not really going to be dealing with boy scouts when you're trying to best bad guys. but these are -- a lot of them have stake in these cases, financially and often criminal cases involving them. how does that color would happen here? >> guest: i think the story of the book is as much a story about terrorist anesthetists about fairness in the united
7:17 pm
states. the informants get at the heart of god commanded the informants the fbi uses are not guys necessarily not because they want to keep america safe and it's a great place to live. you can make upwards of $100,000 if you bring in someone you can press kit for terrorism. they have a direct financial incentive to sign terry spared the fbi uses coercive methods. for example, generally speaking among muslims in the united states and they bought by an affluent community, so the normal mechanism is organized crime, were you give someone lower-level offense and isn't that useful, but immigration as because it's a largely immigrant population. so if they are here as immigrants or citizens may have families. many are vulnerable on immigration for the fbi to use as a method of recruitment to
7:18 pm
say hey, you know we can make your life hard and deport you and in most cases, their incentive is they want to stay in the country and they hide another type of incentive. under the pressure under the threat of deportation. he can't find any terrorists. they find people who are more accessible to their suggestions. >> the fbi also has a lot at stake. one of the things i found revelatory work in the story centers and how much the bureau has become transformed by counterterrorism from this organization of accounting and people chasing very different kinds of crimes to now the majority of the budget going to counterterrorism.
7:19 pm
>> before 9/11, the fbi was an organization of lawyers and accounting and they pursued organized crime, but mortgage fraud, financial fraud and weren't necessarily terrorism first and foremost. and our focus on terrorism in the last decade, if you haven't notice they miss out on a lot of financial fraud in crimes. the fbi would make a fine part aimed to determine. the fbi has a financial incentive in the financial pressure to build terrorism cases. armors allocates the budget and $3 billion, the largest portion of the budget and the fbi really can't spend $3 billion, just like the informants can't take the money and not fighting terrorists. they can't go back to congress and say we looked around at the time any terrorists. the fbi uses sting operations as an effective mechanism to testify how to spend its money
7:20 pm
and further spending on terrorism. the fbi has been public and touting these cases. when he attacked about counterterrorism, he rarely talked about someone who posed a real underwriter. he's more likely to talk about someone in new york city who was at wal-mart talker, an informant targeted him and got him involved in a park to bomb synagogues in the bronx. those bombs are provided by the fbi. he offered $250,000 to move forward in the plot. there is no indication on his own he could've become a terrorist. at one point the fbi was worried the case would fall apart and asked him to break them because their fear was that they had a gun charge on them, they could
7:21 pm
at least bring something. confirm it isn't $300 since his baghdad. he spends the whole night searching to buy a gun and comes back the next day. he gives back the money -- he was unable to get a gun. what i think is so incredible as this is a man the proper bowler chris before congress chris before congress and says this is a dangerous terrorist, but also a man who at $300 couldn't icon. how dangerous could this man has been? we all know guns are not better to get in the united states and he was unable to. he portrays the dangerous terrorist or counterterrorism operation was able to foil. >> did you see any evidence of this kind of approach leaking from counterterrorism are specifically going after a budget in the slums islamist terrorists or their communities?
7:22 pm
>> yeah, you see this significantly more so among left-wing do this. particularly a group recently charged in the cuyahoga river and ohio, a group of anarchists who had no capacity, but informant provided them everything they needed to move forward in a bombing plot. we are seeing this, but what we are not releasing on the right-wing side, this type of use, for example against sovereign citizen, white supremacy and i don't have the reason for that fully. for example, the sovereign citizen movement and consider them, but not everyone does. they believe they cannot edit u.s. law. you cannot doubt is the the contract and not accessible anymore. they have a paranoid to leave that every time one person in
7:23 pm
the rest that are stated and get the nicest typing a because they thought it is a contract they could opt-out on, that this is a paranoid belief of the government of persecuting them. we had mine for us until this summer's edison and only since 2009 has a acknowledged sovereign citizens are very thread. what's happening in the fbi's focus on counterterrorism, specifically on this and communities cambridgeside into anarchists, but we have been a focus on other side. sovereign citizen they are not our dangerous and other groups. >> you'll be really interested in the project were working on at the moment. that is it ways to go yet. there are the obvious -- there
7:24 pm
are the obvious implications for this kind of publicity to these kinds of cases, furthering the notion that essentially in every muslim community of lyrics she hobbyist terrorism. has that been raised and is that something people on counterterrorism think about is potentially damaging in that it doesn't recruit people to want to help identify the few people who might actually be dangerous? >> rates. there is the idea of a blowback effect. it is focused so specifically that they recruit informants and if we talk to religious leaders and muslim communities, the laugh and say when i pray issa and the guy next to me as an informant. this creates a damaging effect on the relationship between this and communities and law
7:25 pm
enforcement, especially when the fear is going to law enforcement , and muslim puts himself at risk of being worker to themselves. so that we'd seen as a cutting off of that relationship. so it's less likely today than it was before nine 9/11 that a muslim in the united states this season if the fish is and call the fbi. i think i have a damaging effect because it be tied to a cup, would be people in that community. their business as they are, family fare. because of the information to the fbi is very aggressive stance and muslim communities, they limit the amount of information they get to the informants that they pay and this informants have an incentive to provide information to say hey, there's a terrorist here. it's part of terrorism and that creates a sting operation. so the question is then, is it
7:26 pm
possible we will miss cases? as a possible there'll be a terrorist in the united states. he will try to hide and muslims would say this guy was suspicious and inferior they would not want to provide that information to law enforcement. pulling out anecdotally is the fbi asserted in an informant in orange county, california contact very boldly how wanted to commit terrorism and the stranger recruit people to be part of it. they didn't go themselves to the fbi. they went to care and then care provided that information to the fbi. i think it's something difficult to measure, but the blowback effect is the most concerning. what are we missing as a result of muslim communities in the united states? >> which has been an asset. there's an interesting
7:27 pm
comparison to muslim communities in europe that have been much right alienated in some cases from law enforcement in this country is. the >> obviously come the muslims in the united states for far better integrated in our society than europe. there was a pew study done of immigrant groups and it found among immigrant groups, muslims have the highest likelihood to become citizens, to fully integrate into the community, to become americanized than almost every other group. also if you look at demographic studies, muslims are very affluent. so it's highly unlikely that a guy in my view, a guy worshiping orange county who drives a bmw is likely to be the person is going to become a terrorist. i think that's very different from europe, where there's and in many cases ghettoization of the muslim community and that
7:28 pm
hasn't been the case here at all. >> it's hard to draw an exact parallel, that there is some overlap over torture where you have a similar argument that the end justifies the means, that in order to prevent these horrible acts, basically you have to do some bad things and that's obviously been at the forefront again "zero dark 30". do you see any parallel to your servers this? talk about that? >> parallels were you have to do what you have to do. if you're going to catch the devil, you have to go to. the problem is they assume by necessity the devil is in the muslim communities, even though evidence is showing that isn't the case. people on the fringes of society who in their own are capable of
7:29 pm
terrorism. what a justifies this fear of terrorism in the united states has justify all sorts of measures by the government that i don't think most americans if they fully knew what can done. for example, the domain management, where they bring as much data as they can to predict where problems are and communities. for the most part, the data and management allows for racial and ethnic targeting. so basically they can say we believe there is a concern about pakistanis in the d.c. suburbs and they can figure out where pakistanis live in virginia and then assign informants accordingly. i asked an fbi agent why he did this and why were and the analogy he used was about a murder investigation. so what he described to me was to see if there is a dead body on the farm and you don't know
7:30 pm
where it is come up with got to find that one of the agent says we should get a helicopter and look from above and try to spot it. the other person says we should walk every inch piece by piece until we find the body. if you look above camille seabird circling in the body has to be under there. that make sense and apply that to domain management. the problem is citizens the threat of terrorism necessarily as salads the birds are enron, same here the pakistanis in the d.c. suburb, but that requires the fbi to have a police terrorism exists that community but i think evidence suggests it is in the case. that's the type of thing that in the fear of terrorism we allow a number of programs that concern people if they fully understood what was going on.
7:31 pm
[inaudible .. in the past, therefore this is the kind of person we need to look for fresh future crimes of finance fact involved. >> i talked to myron fuller and
7:32 pm
his job was to look both innocence between the islamic terrorist groups both in the southeast asia and central asia and how they are connected to groups in the united states. the fbi prior to 9/11 invested money to figure this out, the connection overseas are the harboring them in any way, and all of these efforts came up they had no connection whatsoever, and after the '93 world trade center bombing they said did we miss anything and he said we looked and didn't find any connections with terrorists in any way that these groups had ever seen. in his view what happened after nine all of them, they had all of this information to believe there for support during the tours supporting terrorism so they threw all that out and they thought there must be a connection. he was living in florida that must mean there were some in the community supporting him and protecting them and what they
7:33 pm
did is had information but they chose to assume that all of it was wrong after 9/11 and in many ways the policy the fbi used now is based on that suspicion that because of the group of terrorists after 9/11 were muslims and they were integrated in the communities in the united states there must be others here. >> it's something that seems to play out in these cases go to court. it's not just the fbi assembling these cases and running the informants and putting them together. i believe at least at the time we published the story he found that not one of terrorism charge had actually come to a jury, not one of those has ever been found not guilty. they don't even bother to plead if i recall. >> there are few anomalies. there are few that ultimately got off, and one of them got off
7:34 pm
despite the evidence being very similar to the others. we don't know why that happened. with those out fliers aside, what we have is a near-perfect record of conviction in these places. and, you know, in my view where it becomes a story about terrorism and less about justice is through the operations, the fbi is able to take some of the terrorism and bring him along and engage him and get him involved in a plot, for example, to the subway system and the the weapon of mass destruction and because he uses that weapon he is then suggested as he tries the mandatory sentences that are designed for people who really have the ability to get that weapon. and so he goes to the trial and loses, which the odds are that he will lose ultimately he's going to face 25 to 35 years in prison. most of these men are in their early 20s, sometimes in their 30's with near-perfect records of convictions coming and they
7:35 pm
get 12, 13 years in prison. but in all of these cases they are subjected to the minimum guidelines for crimes they had no capacity but the fbi and engages them in a plot that provides them with a weapon that ultimately qualifies them for the sentence for khalid sheikh mohammed but ultimately it draws people in who had no capacity for the terrorism and said he wanted to bomb the courthouse in portland and the fbi provided him everything he would need, the bond he needed. he even paid his rent because he was about to be effected and now she's in court arguing and what we know is he is that the 11th arguing since 9/11 and if he succeeds she will be the first winning is low in part because when you argue entrapment the government has to prove that
7:36 pm
you're predisposed to commit the crime and the government is effective at doing since 9/11 is putting the government experts on the stand who say well he wants to see videos he is to commit a crime and the bar for the predisposition has been lowered in these cases that he watched the jihad of videos and that is ridiculous. you've probably seen a video and we are not going to commit acts of. >> that ultimately becomes evidence and that's why winning on entrapment is so difficult. it's not really if you look at the data in a possible when it comes to terrorism because after 9/11. >> i would like to encourage all of you to get your questioning hats on because we have an opportunity to ask questions. i have one more question for trevor and this is motivated in part by the fact that there are not one but two fact checkers in
7:37 pm
the audience and i'm going to put them on the spot on this piece that he did for us in researching this and the governor is hiding in the back. these guys know a lot about what i'm going to ask you which is just the mechanics of a project like this. q. you are with this book and it looks nice and tidy but putting this information together involves a little more than calling the fbi in saying what about these things. how does that actually works? >> warren this year and worked on the investigative program for nearly a year and part of this was we wanted to build the most comprehensive database and make it public. we want to look at all these cases and figure out how many,
7:38 pm
whether the role could be classified as a provocateur or that he provided the means and the idea they don't have a section that says the role. you have to read through the thousands of pages of records to find the information. so a big part of that became going through the files to go to warehouses around the country to pull the court files and then we systematically review them and try to classify them as best as we could come and the other fact checkers at mother jones have the hard work of cleaning up the data in some cases, but i think ultimately that's the strength of the mother jones project and the strength of the book.
7:39 pm
the account your one page to another and it was a trend, but the only way to really prove this as a problem is to shoot through the data and we can show specific numbers with how many were involved in the sting operations and the agent provocateurs there's one and four men accused of murder and pakistan in the then leader worked on several cases i think that's what made this a good example of this started at the university of california berkeley and then we joined up with mother jones and by six months in you create the data and fact checking resources needed to different organizations working on a single budget in the end. >> the investigative reporting
7:40 pm
program is run by the guide is portrayed by al pacino who blew the tobacco industry wide open and documented how they had been hiding what they knew about the effect. so, when trevor came in with this story he knows a few people in the fbi. >> and he was critical to read one of the biggest stumbling blocks wasn't having the time to do the book but you couldn't do this project without access to the fbi. the fbi could say why don't you talk to us and we can tell you what's going on. in researching this project there are two sides. there's the data side with the data bases and we looked at every case and has detailed a process as we cut and the other
7:41 pm
side was taking all the data and then going back to the fbi to explain how does this guy get targeted, why does he choose to target someone like this and tell me about the program and we were putting these things together a relatively complete picture of the program what we feel the motivations we don't think the fbi is saying we are sick of the muslim communities and trump that charges the this is a bureaucratic problem we have all this money so what we have is a program that in trying to capture the terrorists before they strike that's sweeping in people that really on their own didn't have the capacity, and likely in my view the evidence suggests it never would have become their own. estimate it sounds like a case of bad incentives all around.
7:42 pm
the poor schmuck who wants an apartment and grandiose like he's going to smoke somebody and the informant that has money on the line at the fbi has the line items and a budget on their reputation. >> in the cases of counterterrorism your mentioned by the results you bring in. it isn't a very good case agent said that puts a question on the informant's to bring people and i think that creates this recipe where we have people that brought in the sting operation but if you look closely at the case there's an argument to be made that they really could have become terrorists on their own. >> let's hear from the audience. and, you know, this is being filmed, so give the microphone a chance to come to you. yes. in the back. >> thank you. >> there is a lot of people who don't believe the official story
7:43 pm
of 9/11. i think one reason for that is how the fpi handled the so-called 9/11 suspects in this sounds like a was a little but the opposite of how it was after 9/11 to find anybody devotee suspect of terrorism well before 9/11. it is documented evidence they were even told to ignore or kill certain investigations that had potential 9/11 suspects. have you studied any of that? >> there's a lot of theories about 9/11. i spoke about the changes that have been in the fbi and what we have seen. >> what to say in the book and in the piece is the impetus to never let this happen again under their watch especially to never be blamed again was a big
7:44 pm
part. >> what i make a case for is what we are seeing now is an overreaction. they really underestimated the threat of islamic terrorism. there were agents and the fbi that were waiting saying al qaeda is a threat and the top-level management wasn't interested in hearing that prior to 9/11 and then at 9/11 happened and we had a shift in the fbi where terrorism which was not a high priority but it had become the top priority. and these programs very overnight. the fbi began a very different agent. >> i want to encourage the fact checkers among others because you know where all the bodies are buried. >> i'm just curious -- can you hear me? i'm just curious if the target
7:45 pm
ever calls the fbi and says this guy is a terrorist and tries to bust the informant. the estimate there is a case involving an informant there was a man in orange county the fbi believed was connected to osama bin laden. so he made a number of over-the-top statements how we should get involved and was actually the fbi, i'm sorry, the members of the muslim community that called the fbi and said we think he's a terrorist and the funny part of this the way it's been described to me is what they called the fbi and said i think we have a terrorist and the fbi was very eager to give us a name and they said don't
7:46 pm
worry about him. because of that shift the community was like she's an informant and it blew the whole case so that's a great example going against the logic here was someone in the muslim community and was they who turned him in. >> mother jones story focuses like an informant agent in a couple of places and saying to the mill here they moved to pittsburgh, they moved from city to city. my first look and then there were a number of documents that we posted on line including the fbi transcripts. one of the fbi transcripts included the phone number. so he then moves on to other cases in pittsburgh and he gives the man his business card and
7:47 pm
says he's fighting with the brothers and he became very concerned but him and does would probably everyone of us does, he google's his name and doesn't find his name said he does the number and find is the document we posted online to be defined his name and find the mother jones article with the informants picture. the amazing thing about that is that the fbi with all the resources didn't even bother to change the phone number of the informant from fees' to face putative so that was another example. in that case actually they did in that charging the man with a crime who is based on the youtube video of him firing a weapon and a gun range and the problem with that is even the founding shouldn't have been in possession of guns. it was a year old. he didn't even have a weapon but they were not able to get terrorism started but they used him for that. i'm not sure, but they are
7:48 pm
informants. >> me d-tn ra would have helped them out. >> i want to talk about other countries and whether this type of approach do you know is used in other countries or do they have a different way of, you know, looking out for potential terrorists? it's quite different than other countries and i wonder if you knew anything about that. >> i'm not an expert in this area but i know they can't use sting operations. this would be rather unheard of for them to create a type of sting operation like they have here. in the united states it's not fair to say that type of case doesn't happen. at least in your upcoming and i've not heard in other countries but i don't want to say that for sure. you never come obviously terrorism is as much a concern in great britain as it is here. but you never see the tactics to
7:49 pm
try to prevent terrorism. they don't use sting operations. >> -- people talking about it, but in england they would suspect they would just go over and talk to them and say we think you might be terrorists, so we are going to keep an on you. and then they do >> the defense lawyers that is one thing they say. you have spent all this money on terrorism and he was a young and impressionable by. if they would have said what are you doing then we wouldn't have had to go through all of this. i don't know if that is true with the defense attorneys said. but like i mentioned, it's unlikely and certainly unlikely that he would have had the economic resources to acquire
7:50 pm
sometimes to be a i do think that is the interesting idea. the other part i would mention is that the fbi says this is a real danger and people that would strike if they were not there to prevent it but if you look at the last ten years more people go by the lone gunman in connecticut and there have been by people sympathetic to al qaeda. they would ever commit a crime this seems highly unlikely or that the threat of islamic terrorism is not what the fbi had sold to the american public. >> is it on plaques it doesn't sound like it. is this what they are doing with
7:51 pm
drugs like what is the thing that came out in the movie about the central park is a pressure them into the false concessions and send them off for 50 years or whatever, and seems to still be a pretty healthy industry. can you just sort of comment on the same old thing? >> the parallel is a bureaucratic problem. the fbi received hundreds of money and they haven't produced results. the sting operation provided a very effective way to do that. we've caught this drug dealer and we have this many cases and terrorism has the same effect if they have to show something for it and sting operations are a very effective mechanism for them to do it. so it's not like the fbi learned a new trend in this operation. >> i think that we should tell them to give us our money back.
7:52 pm
>> that is one of conagra's comes in deciding what the budget is and that the budget then dictates the priorities of the fbi investigation. >> i think you've done a really good service to highlight the lousy job that the fbi has done. however i think you totally denigrate the fact that al qaeda is an implacable enemy of all of us here and that attack happened post 9/11 happened in madrid and in london i think it's foolhardy. so while the fbi should do a better job i think it is foolish to totally pupu that they should be doing something. they should be doing something. i guess they should be doing it smarter. >> i don't mean to make the case here or in the book that islam and terrorism there haven't been
7:53 pm
terrible attacks. obviously there have been. i think the case is most of the terrorism cases we brought to court hasn't been like the madrid bombing. this is a group of people that were able to carry out but we are not seeing that with your ultimately bringing. instead they are fearful they are ultimately bringing in people of their own that are not capable and the evidence suggests that there are terrorists here who can and are able to commit these attacks but it just hasn't happened. we have the most recent case that ultimately failed and testing operations were unable to tease him out. the fbi wasn't aware when they delivered the bombs so while they are terrorists the question i make is with a dusting operations are ultimately the best way of capturing them and by using these operations announcing them to the public as an example of another plot we are exaggerated the threat of islamic terrorism as a threat to the united states.
7:54 pm
skype there is debate whether the money would be more effectively spent in listing communities. as a first line of defense. >> right. >> a follow-up, the community's would be a better approach and what other suggestions would you have based on your research? >> i think in my view terrorism as a part of the but i don't know if the evidence suggests to support the largest part of the sdi budget. financial fraud, organized crime which had been a part prior to 9/11 to get more funding than it currently did, so i think the cycle the fbi is in is because it receives so much money it needs to justify that funding and operations provide that funding but at the same time i should mention that there's an effect defending the fbi view that we can't fully measure by
7:55 pm
using the sting operations where they termed a hostile environment so if you are here in the united states and you want to commit an act of terrorism because of the sting operations you may talk to the guy next to you because he's an undercover agent or informant and that has an effect we cannot measure and that is one thing we talked about. what we are not seeing are a lot of cable terrorists in the united states and even when we are, these sting operations are not able to achieve them out to find them ahead of time. >> after you found that the fbi has changed some of their methods on the relationships they have with the informants to be maybe less coercive because i see from what you are saying they are social means coming and
7:56 pm
why they may be easy targets. >> they haven't changed anything i know of there is pending legislation from stephen lynch of massachusetts and congress that would give oversight how the fbi uses an informant and provides greater reporting to the congress on why particular informants were used. the criminal records, whether they were allowed in some cases informants are allowed to make crimes as a part of their investigation. there is a move to create better oversight but with the fbi, still not a lot changes so in this investigation the last couple years haven't resulted in the changes in how the fbi recruits informant but what we are still seeing is the informants that use are generally questionably worse than target for example in the recent case in seattle involving this man i mentioned, the fbi enlisted as a child molester in format and there's evidence to
7:57 pm
show he was sending sexual text messages in violation of the parole while working for the fbi so if congress were to take a greater scrutiny that would be the informant they would look at but now the fbi is still using informants to have a financial motivation or the case of working out the crime. >> is there a difference standard for entrapment being applied because these are terrorism cases? it seems if you apply the same kind of tactics in the financial industry you could have half of wall street off in no time. >> it's no matter what because basically you are required to say yes i did but were not not for him i wouldn't have done it
7:58 pm
at all. we're looking at terrorism cases and in particular has a mentioned before about the predisposition, the government has to show that the person that had an interest in committing the crime of the behavior said things that he wanted to commit the crime before the government agent played a role so the wall street crime they would have to prove the person wanted to embezzle money or commit some kind of fraud and the terrorism cases they have to do the same with an act of terrorism but the disposition is pretty low so all they need to show in some of the cases is to watch the jihadi video and the government has the so-called experts that come on the stand and testify the al qaeda classics when people watch the video, you know, they solve radicalize and that means a predisposition to be of course none of that is supported by the social science. just because you want something doesn't mean that to become the terrorism to the qtr rest of the government has been effective in putting on the experts, the most
7:59 pm
notable is evin coleman who then testified that because he watched ag odd video your predispose a od become predisposed and the other difficulty is that in arguing the entrapment, you are asking the jury to be sympathetic to you to say i would have done it were it not for being overrun by the informant. and these plots are so terrific. someone can say i ride the subway and i work in the towers and i think that creates evin -- it is a further barrier to sympathy -- barrier to sympathy and the terrorism cases even more, but that said, arguing entrapment in any case is very difficult in the united states. >> i want to ask if you intersected or got any information about the cuban side because they are definitely i think a case of entrapment and i
8:00 pm
don't believe there is any evidence that any of them even spoke about committing a terrorist act that we are trying to infiltrate to prevent the attacks. estimate as i said before that wasn't the focus of this. we were looking at is an international terrorism and what they classified as international terrorism and they didn't classify as far as these kind of cases that there is a whole other great story about the use for example and that is the interesting story on its own but very separate from these kinds of cases unfortunately. >> i've got to say i kind of like the analogy that you go where the birds are to find the
8:01 pm
body. it doesn't seem that's what they did. they are not going where the birds are flying. they are going somewhere else. what is the profile, is a different person or where should they be looking? >> there are people that get involved entered service in -- he traveled back in those days what we have seen are people in the united states that say they want to commit terrorism and then they become too nervous because they need an al qaeda operative. but what the government believes is the profile of a terrorist is the young man, 16 to 35, unmarried -- you are okay but the reason i criticize the first analogy is that it requires them to believe that the threat
8:02 pm
excess with where they see the bird flying so in this case they see the bird flying over the muslim communities and so the focus on those communities and it isn't the best analogy that they use because a bird falls over a dead body and they feed off the dead body but that doesn't mean it doesn't fit the same way. for the fbi to use data to religiously map a community and then say that we are going to target the iranians and los angeles. so it requires them that they haven't had intelligence order some cases may be predispositions to believe it's hard to know. what we do know is they were inside the fbi that has been very islamophobia and for example some of the training with the prophet muhammed and the muslims raising money for charity but a mechanism for raising money for terrorism, so that i think raises questions about the internal ideas about islam and the fbi come and
8:03 pm
whether there is a belief that even when they can't show the communities there muslim terrorists, some there must be a connection and that is really where they draw that line and where the burden is to target of a specific communities. >> a question that this may be on our mind seeing president obama's second inauguration and that is where has the obama administration been on this? is a lot of the cases are before 2008. has anything changed? >> the terrorism operations the developed under george w. bush, and they have basically continued unabated under president obama. and i think one of the extraordinary things is if you look at the 2012 presidential election, one of the areas was national security and foreign
8:04 pm
policy, the glass jar of democratic candidates and what he is seen as a doubling down on the police. eric holder can to san francisco for a meeting that was put on and he was questioned specifically about the sting operations and he insisted that the these are a legitimate law enforcement tool for binding terrorists. but we've also seen under obama and by the press to be critical of this is an increasing of surveillance. the amount of warrantless wiretaps, warrantless electronic surveillance. the fbi when it believes someone might has 72 hours looking through e-mail and trash to go through any kind of digital remnants he might leave behind looking for evidence that he may be involved in terrorism and we have seen an explosion of that. googled reports every year and that is increased. what we have seen is a really strong sandbar moment in defending these. we've seen a steady increase in
8:05 pm
the types of spaces and if you look at the initial mother jones investigation there's been data since then and the percentage of the informants that are agent provocateurs in terms of who provides the needs and the idea is even higher than what we thought before. these are people like the mohammed caisse and the most recent one is the case in new york who wanted to bomb the new york federal reserve and the fbi informants provided all the needs and we are seeing more and more of that under obama. as of this has kind of become a policy that obama has defended and found it hard to believe anything with achieve over the next four years. >> there continues to be debates on things like the electronic privacy aspect of it and certainly general petraeus was surprised to find. >> that's the most extraordinary thing. this is the power that took down the cia director to lead to take down the cia director by airing
8:06 pm
of the dirty laundry. obviously this has the potential to affect so many people. >> while we are on that topic as this comes to mind because mother jones has had some interesting experiences with undercover recordings as mitt romney proposed, there is a lot of undercover recording going on in the kind of cases that you described and i just wondered if mechanically do these informants where y-year-old time, some of the time, how does that get decided? >> because the inference are so untrustworthy, the fbi is to record everything they do so that the day they don't have to worry that the informant going on the stand and say yes this happened and not really having much credibility. but they rarely do that. as the encounter between the informant and the terrorism target which are the most critical. the most critical in putting intrepid and the most critical predisposition they are rarely recorded as is the case that i
8:07 pm
mentioned as the synagogues for months went by and the fbi informant didn't record any of the conversations but that's even more concern and i think that does it really hide the chance that the fbi would experience record of the malfunction there was a case involving a man in baltimore there was in a sting operation and because of the informant and says what's going on i don't want to hear any more tell me if it is a sting operation and he says know what's talk about why don't you come over so he comes over and of course this is an airport meeting. what's he going to say to people and the fbi somehow has a recording of functions of that was recorded about what we know was even jumps back in the conversation that is recorded and says i'm ready to move forward. i want to do it. here is a sophisticated law
8:08 pm
enforcement agency that should have been really good equipment they are not buying stuff out fast by end they are having a malfunction which to me is suspicious in these meetings that seem so important is a high chance the meeting won't be recorded and it's actually something they're referencing right now where the meeting between mohammed mohammed and the undercover agents wasn't recorded and the fbi excuse was we ran out of batteries and that's why they didn't record it and they want their recording malfunction but it's a suspicion. >> a question here in the question back here. >> i think with knicks and he had a secretary that had an automatic thing because the name the part of the freedom of
8:09 pm
information area. >> how was it reacted to some of the work that you've done. has it reached out to the mother jones article was published and introduced? >> i think -- i have been heartened by they think that this is important work and there is a benefit that's put out there that has been targeted by fbi agents in a very aggressive way. seven general this is difficult to report because here i am asking these questions and the first thing they might think is an informant said the muslim
8:10 pm
communities in general have been very open to talking about these issues and i think that has been very helpful. >> the case that you are talking about coming you know, it is in the the news but this guy has a pretty interesting back story to read if you can tell us a little bit about his biography it eliminates what you're talking about. >> he was kind of the next that he lived in oregon. when the fbi targeted we were not quite sure, but he kind of lived two lives. he espoused a very conservative form of islam, and at the same time he was kind of a party year. he would go to parties and drank he was 19. and there is a situation where he went home with a girl and had sex and the leader girl accused
8:11 pm
him of date rape. the police initially investigated that and we are not sure when they became interested that the fbi then showed up at oregon state at the police department as we see in question on the date rape and she says i didn't rate in the one and he finds over reform you can search my hard drive because he hadn't researched date rape drugs to be he gives them the hard drive and access to his phone and it turns out later the accuser came back and didn't have any date rape drugs in the system but what he didn't know it is as a part of that they turned over to the fbi the entire hard drive and he suddenly got an e-mail from the so-called terrorist are you interested in joining the brothers because with interest he had been mailed potential terrorists in pakistan and mohammed mohammed said i'm interested in moving forward and they said why don't you come to this hotel in portland and he
8:12 pm
agreed to do that and that was the first encounter that the fbi was the first to record and didn't and they ran out of battery. during that meeting according to the fbi they said what would you like to do? find a plot for us to get involved in and he goes away and he comes back a few days later and he tells the fbi about this ceremony in portland and thousands of people are there and they said there's children there. he says i don't care. something about of their enemies of islam they should die and i don't care of children and innocent people are blown apart. that is what the fbi has put forward but the problem is that on his own he had nothing he didn't know how to build a bomb and the fbi then provided everything. they rented a storage unit. they gave him a list of things that he needed to buy with some sort of a switch and another one was a cell phone that was the
8:13 pm
components for this detonated bomb and the fbi then built the bomb for him to seem so authentic that is not like gasoline so they put the bomb in the back of a truck and mohammed spotted a parking spot near the square that people in portland thought was incredibly hard to get a parking spot. that parking spot is available. so he pulls up in the van and the park the car and he walks away and they detonate the bomb and it doesn't go off so they do it again and they arrest him and this was portrayed in the media as the dangerous spot but later we find out that mohammed didn't know how to build a bomb and the fbi built it for him. they didn't have specific connections to terrorism and he was 19 at the time.
8:14 pm
at the same time in the middle of the operation he was about to be ejected and the fbi gave him i think $3,000 to pay his rent and background so that wouldn't become a part of the issue. then leader there are e-mails from the fbi agent talking about how you read this book and he kind of mistake and the e-mail said something about he's susceptible to it was an example of the fbi not looking so much at someone who was dangerous but could draw on to their sting operation. so right now they are putting on a very vigorous entrapment of all the cases i've seen go to trial i think this is the one that stands the best chance but even then as i mentioned it is probably difficult. >> [inaudible] islamic the questioner wants to

Book TV
CSPAN February 24, 2013 7:00pm-8:15pm EST

Trevor Aaronson Education. (2013) 'The Terror Factory Inside the FBI's Manufactured War on Terrorism.' New.

TOPIC FREQUENCY Fbi 90, United States 11, Us 9, Islam 6, Portland 4, Al Qaeda 3, Trevor 3, Europe 3, Pittsburgh 2, Pakistan 2, Madrid 2, George W. Bush 2, Mohammed Mohammed 2, U.s. 2, Miami 2, Mohammed 2, Seattle 2, Oregon 2, Cia 2, Obama 2
Network CSPAN
Duration 01:15:00
Scanned in San Francisco, CA, USA
Source Comcast Cable
Tuner Channel 17 (141 MHz)
Video Codec mpeg2video
Audio Cocec ac3
Pixel width 704
Pixel height 480

disc Borrow a DVD of this show
info Stream Only
Uploaded by
TV Archive
on 2/25/2013